Businesses warned of travel risk

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Australian businesses are being reminded of their duty to keep travelling and expatriate staff safe in countries experiencing turmoil.

Eliza Murray, Regional Information Manager - Asia Pacific, Travel Security Services, International SOS, said that are a number of potential flashpoints in Asia in 2014, such as Thailand, which could impact the security environment.

“It’s not that staff shouldn’t travel to risky countries, they just need to know the risks, be well prepared and know who to contact in an emergency,” Murray said.

Thailand is currently subjected to a number of travel warnings due to its ongoing political upheaval. Murray told Corporate Risk & Insurance the main issue for Australian organisations with business or staff traveling to the region is disruption due to protests.

While travel can continue to the country, the advice is to minimise movement due to the potential for violence at protest sites and to expect disruption to business and travel. Murray said organisations needed to plan journeys for their staff to avoid all protest locations ahead of the February 2 election, and minimise all non-essential movement of staff on election day.

Thailand is not the only country for businesses to consider staff safety for, Bangladesh, Ukraine and Egypt are all experiencing upheaval and caution should also be taken in these countries.

Murray advises businesses operating in risky locations or sending personnel to these locations to put in place measures so they can cope with disruption from any upheaval and what to do in case staff members become stranded.

“Journey management comes into it, too. Plan how staff are getting to A and B and have contingency plans,” she added.

It’s also important staff are prepared and informed prior to any travel of the risks of where they are travelling to. While disruption is usually the key concern, Murray said people can get injured because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“It’s really [about] being aware of the risks before you go and staying up to date while you are there so you know where to avoid and what to do if you’re in trouble.”
International SOS offers the following advice for organisations with business or staff in Thailand:
  • Personnel in Bangkok should plan journeys to avoid protest locations and allow more time to travel to destinations. 
  • Staff travelling to Bangkok should maintain flexible itineraries.
  • Prior to departure, confirm all onward travel arrangements, and confirm that planned business appointments are still possible.
  • Travel and transit to Bangkok through both international airports remains possible: travel to and from Bangkok's airports should be in official airport taxis (with designated permit indicated by an orange sticker in the windscreen), or the BTS Skytrain. Skytrain should be used for all journeys within the city where possible.
  • Managers should ensure their staff observe appropriate journey management measures and be able to locate and communicate with all travellers in Bangkok. Managers with local offices in Bangkok should review business continuity plans, and where appropriate allow staff to work from home.
  • Outside Bangkok, personnel are advised to avoid all demonstration activity, which has been focused on provincial halls, mainly in the southern provinces. Personnel with business at government buildings are advised to confirm that there is no activity prior to embarking and to defer travel if there are demonstrations.
Related articles:
Business travel putting companies at risk
Business travel putting companies at risk – Part 2

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